Rovers gunning for five
By MARK ROBINSON
RICHMOND Rovers?? perfect start to the Football FNC Premier League season will be under threat from a desperate Goonellabah tomorrow when the teams meet at Nielson Park, East Lismore.
Four wins from four games has Rovers on top of the ladder with a four-point buffer, but the clash with Goonellabah looms as their toughest yet after playing lower-ranked sides so far. With virtually no injuries, Rovers will run on the same line-up that overwhelmed Bangalow 4-1 last Saturday.
Joel Saye has marshalled the defence well, but midfield has been their real strength, with the likes of Ian McGregor, Aaron Heffernan, Scott Coster and Ben Casagrande in good form.
Striker Troy Matthews bagged a brace last week and and on home soil Rovers will go in as favourites over a Goonellabah side just starting to settle into their season.
The Hornets last week picked up their first win and, with Peter O??Neil back from suspension and the return of Daniel Morrow and Greg Huxtable, they will look to build momentum. ?z Workers in a hole LISMORE Workers have never needed a home win as badly as today, when they host Bangalow at Richards Oval.
Their worst start to a season was compounded by a humiliating 7-0 loss to Burringbar last week, leaving the Redmen still without a competition point.
With defender Dauwn Hoare suspended after being sent off, Workers?? suspect depth will be further tested, but with pride on the line and in front of their home crowd a win could trigger a turning point in their season.
Bangalow started the season sensationally with victory over premiers Byron Bay, but have not won since.
With Glen Sheldrick suspended and influential midfielder Tom Inoue doubtful, the Bluedogs will rely heavily on Joel Rudgley in the middle of the paddock and central defenders Paul Hannigan and Ricky Small. ?z Sharks, Stars clash THERE will be no shortage of motivation for Lennox Head and Italo Stars today when the two premiership contenders square off at Skenners Head.
Both sides are undefeated and share second place on the ladder, giving the winner a real chance to catch early leaders Rovers, but leaving the loser back with the pack.
The Sharks have Andrew Lundie returning from injury and possibly also Rod Mallum and Adrian Zakaras.
Stars have Craig Wiblen out with a broken toe, Bill Latimer doubtful with a bruised foot and goalkeeper Trent Battistuzzi facing a last-minute fitness test before he can return.
With a couple of others carrying niggling injuries Stars will need to dig deep, but have already shown plenty of spirit this season and will give the Sharks a tough contest. ?z Tough for Bandits BURRINGBAR raised plenty of eyebrows with their big win over Workers, but face the acid test today when the Bandits travel to Byron Bay.
Burringbar will run on the same side that embarrassed Workers 7-0 last week, with strikers Simon Hurcombe and Joel Davidson bagging five goals between them.
Bandits coach Grant Wilkins knows the Rams, the defending premiers, will quickly bring his side back to earth if they lose concentration.
??We know we??re up for a hard game down there, but I??ve seen them play and we??ll make a few adjustments without diverting too much from our usual fast, attacking game,?? Wilkins said.
The Rams will be back to full strength with Aaron Richter-Steers and Todd Knaus returning. On home soil they will be favoured to win. ?z Injured Bobcats MACLEAN is still coming to terms with what look like long-term injuries to important midfielders Aaron Bylos and Aaron Swanson going into their clash with Ballina at Saunders Park today.
Bylos has persistent swelling behind a kneecap and has tried to play through it but is now resigned to four weeks off, while Swanson has knee cartilage damage and a minimum of six weeks.
Michael Piccoli is likely to fill the shoes of Bylos in central midfield where his combination with Kevin Crofton will be pivotal. Ballina should run on the same side that showed plenty of spirit but eventually went down 2-1 to Goonellabah.
Some doubts remain over young striker Daniel Bostock after he limped off last week, but Seahorses coach Dwayne Smith is quietly confident.
Central defenders Clint Colless and Phil Emery are key figures for Ballina.